President’s Update for June 11, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … State issues PSP warnings for Alaska shellfish: The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is advising Alaskans not to harvest and eat shellfish because of some of the highest levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) ever recorded. So far this spring, at least 14 people in Metlakatla and Ketchikan have been sickened by PSP, with a couple of them ending up in the intensive care unit. Last year there were two deaths attributed to PSP (in Juneau and Haines, with the Haines death also listing heart failure as an official cause), the state’s first PSP-related deaths since 1997. PSP is very serious, and it only takes two hours for someone to become seriously ill. The state does not routinely monitor Alaska beaches, and it is very risky to eat shellfish that has not been tested in a lab for PSP. We have posted an informational page about the PSP warnings on the SEARHC website that has links to state warnings, fact sheets, first aid tips and other resources, http://searhc.org/common/pages/whatsnew/story8/index.php. We encourage everyone to stay connected with the state’s updates on PSP. Back to top Lynn Gras named director of nursing for S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital: Current S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital family nurse practitioner Lynn Gras has been hired as the hospital’s director of nursing and will assume the position on July 18. Lynn holds a Bachelor of Science-Nursing degree from Hope College in Holland, Mich., and a Master of Science-Nursing degree from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. She first came to SEARHC as a traveling emergency room nurse in 1999 and again as a midlevel practitioner in 2004. She returned to SEARHC in August 2010, when she was hired as a midlevel practitioner to work in the hospital’s Urgent Care Outpatient Department. Since then she took on the role of assistant manager for the Outpatient Department. Before her return to SEARHC, Lynn spent a decade as a emergency room and neonatal intensive care unit nurse in Alaska, the Lower 48, U.S. Virgin Islands and England. She also worked as a family nurse practitioner in remote villages, including Prince of Wales Island, the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands, and flight nurse on medevacs for the Norton Sound region. In addition, she volunteered for refugee work in the Middle East and was medical officer for a high-altitude deep field camp in Antarctica. “I believe she is the right fit to lead the inpatient nurse management team and our nursing staff, and also to continue to build strong healthy relationships between patients, staff, providers and other customers,” said Norma Perkins, hospital administrator. Back to top Fall mobile mammogram schedule announced: The Fall 2011 schedule for the mobile mammogram van program has been announced, and it will start with a visit Aug. 22-26 to Hoonah. Other trips on the fall schedule include Aug. 29-Sept. 12 in Haines, Sept. 13-14 in Skagway, Sept. 20-29 and Oct. 5-11 in Klawock, Oct. 3-4 in Craig and Oct. 13-21 in Metlakatla. By the way, the Spring 2011 schedule still is in progress, with a June 8-13 trip to Yakutat and June 16-22 trip to Angoon left to wrap up the tour. The earlier part of the Spring 2011 tour included trips to Haines, Kake, Gustavus and Skagway. The mobile mammogram van program is operated as a partnership between Bartlett Regional Hospital and the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program. Women are encouraged to contact their local clinics before the scheduled visit. Patients will need to have a clinical breast exam before a mammogram. The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program (a grant program with the CDC) provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, Pap tests and cardiovascular screenings for all women ages 40 and older who meet income and insurance guidelines. For more information, contact your local clinic, call the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program in Sitka at 966-8782 (or 1-888-388-8782, toll-free in Alaska), or send e-mail to askwh@searhc.org. For more information about services available through the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program, go to http://www.searhc.org/womenshealth/. Back to top Sen. Begich introduces bill to allow VA to use local health providers for veteran care: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) last week introduced the “Alaska Heroes Card Act of 2011,” a bill that will allow Alaska veterans to access VA-provided health care from local clinics and other treatment facilities in their home towns instead of having to travel to Anchorage or Seattle for care available closer to home. Sen. Begich announced the bill during a June 3 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Alaska 66th Annual Convention in Anchorage. During his announcement, Sen. Begich discussed meeting a veteran from Kwigillingok who spent more than $2,000 traveling from his village to Bethel and then Anchorage to receive care. There are no VA facilities in rural Alaska, but Alaskans serve at the highest rate per capita of any state. Many times veterans from rural Alaska have to travel to Anchorage or Seattle for care, and this bill will allow them to stay home to receive care and allow the local clinic to bill the VA for the services provided. There is now an outpatient clinic for limited services for veterans in Juneau. Back to top SEARHC Juneau Dental provides services at Wildflower Court: The SEARHC Juneau Dental program is seeing patients at Wildflower Court (a Juneau long-term care facility). Wildflower Court houses many tribal members who normally would have difficulty getting to the SEARHC Juneau Dental clinic for routine care. SEARHC is providing dental exams, dental hygiene services, Dental Health Aide services (including oral hygiene and topical fluoride treatments) and in-services with Wildflower Court employees so they can help patients with their daily oral hygiene needs. We anticipate going to Wildflower Court each week to provide dental services. Olivia Barrow, RDH, and Lexi Olsen, DHA II, are coordinating the program and doing a wonderful job. Back to top Pressure gauge testing and Putting up POW Grub: SEARHC POW Health Promotion is pleased to invite the island community to our ninth annual “Putting up POW Grub” to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, at the SEARHC Hydaburg Health Center and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the Sockeye Festival in Klawock (look for exact location signs). Free pressure gauge testing is being offered along with many handouts on food preservation, recipes for local foods and gardening information. Everyone who has their gauge tested will be put in a drawing for a brand new all-American canner. There also will be many door prizes, so come and see what’s new at this year’s Putting up POW Grub. For more information, call June May at (907) 755-4959. Back to top New Anchorage-based patient advocate being recruited for KANA, SEARHC: The Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) is recruiting for an Anchorage-based patient advocate position it shares with SEARHC. The patient advocate will be based with the Customer Experience staff at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) and will be supervised by KANA. The patient advocate serves as a customer liaison for KANA and SEARHC patients who travel to Anchorage to receive care at ANMC. The patient advocate helps patients navigate the Alaska Tribal Health Care System, ensuring patients receive the highest quality health care possible and are satisfied with the care provided. To learn more about the open position and its job requirements, go to http://www.kanaweb.org/html/jobs.php and scroll down to the Patient Advocate job listing. Online applications should be submitted through the KANA website, and should be submitted by Friday, June 17 (note that this is an extension of the original June 10 due date listed on the site). For more information, contact the KANA Human Resources Department at 907-486-9800 (in Kodiak) or send e-mail to hr@kanaweb.org. Back to top Regards, Roald